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D.C. Voters Make Their Decision on Initiative 71 Next Week

Posted on30. Oct, 2014 by .

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With the November 4 midterm elections less than a week away, voters in the nation’s capital are gearing up to vote on Initiative 71. If passed, it would allow D.C. adults 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use, grow up to six marijuana plants at home, and give or trade marijuana amongst other adults 21 and over.

Initiative 71, however, does not regulate, tax, or make marijuana sales legal because the capital’s election law does not allow D.C. voter initiatives to have a direct say or impact on the city’s local budget, meaning the initiative would only make the personal possession and cultivation of marijuana legal.

Even so, the measure is a strong step in the right direction towards implementing a more sensible marijuana policy in the nation’s capital. If you would like to get involved, the DC Cannabis Campaign is looking for as many volunteers as possible to work the polls to ensure that the initiative passes. Their goal is at least 286 volunteers — two per precinct. Please fill out this form to help the cause!


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Legal Marijuana in Your Nation’s Capital

Posted on28. Oct, 2014 by .

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marijuana_seedlingThe marijuana voter initiative that is almost guaranteed to pass on November 4th is DC Initiative 71, the “Legalization of Possession of Minimal Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use Act of 2014.” However, as we will discuss, it is far from certain when the provisions of this proposal will take effect.

Readers should first understand that the District of Columbia is not a state; rather it is a special district created in 1790 by Congress from land along the Potomac River, formerly part of the states of Maryland and Virginia, as the seat of our national government. In 1973 the Congress gave the District a limited form of local control, called the Home Rule Charter, which provides for an elected mayor and City Council, which have the authority to enact and enforce local laws. However, any legislation passed by the City Council is reviewable by the Congress, which has 60 legislative days (when Congress is actually in session) to review and amend or reject the proposed legislation. Those same limitations apply to voter initiatives enacted in the District. In addition, under the Home Rule Charter, voter initiatives may not mandate the expenditure of city funds.

That background is necessary to understand the limited nature of the legalization proposal currently on the ballot for DC voters.

What Initiative 71 Would Do

Initiative 71, sponsored by the DC Cannabis Campaign, would eliminate all criminal and civil penalties for adults, making it legal to:

possess up to two ounces of marijuana for personal use;
grow no more than six cannabis plants (with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants) within the person’s principal residence;

transfer without payment (but not sell) up to one ounce of marijuana to another person 21 years of age or older; and
use or sell drug paraphernalia for the use, growing or processing of marijuana or cannabis.

Initiative 71 does not attempt to establish legal marijuana dispensaries, as that would run afoul of the home rule prohibition on voter initiatives mandating the expenditure of city funds. And it does not protect marijuana smokers against job discrimination, nor alter the child custody issues pertaining to the use of marijuana or the DUID laws in the District.

 

To read the balance of this column, please go to Marijuana.com.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Cambridge, MA Voters Have Say on Making Marijuana Legal

Posted on27. Oct, 2014 by .

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According to Wicked Local Cambridge, next month, Massachusetts’s voters in eight districts — including Precincts 1 and 3 — will get the opportunity to relay to state representatives their opinions on making marijuana legal.

The Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts (DPFMA), a nonprofit organization that supports new approaches to drug control policy, gathered enough signatures to include the following public policy question on the November ballot: “Should state representatives be instructed to support a measure to regulate marijuana similar to alcohol?”

The public policy question will be included on ballots in 56 cities and towns across Massachusetts. In addition, according to DPFMA, one in every 20 resident voters will be given the chance to express their views on the issue.


David Rogers

Cambridge is one of the districts that will get a say on the matter. In fact, the state representative who represents the 24th Middlesex District, David Rogers, said that he plans on voting in favor of the ballot question.

“Although obviously localities cannot legalize marijuana, we do have the ability to influence public discussion and debate, and ultimately public opinion,” Rogers told the Chronicle. “For far too long, the drug laws in the commonwealth and throughout the country have done more than good. It’s time to think creatively about new approaches. I favor legalization coupled with strong regulation.”

Moreover, there is overwhelming public support. Massachusetts’s voters have already approved 69 marijuana public policy questions throughout the state. During elections in 2000 and 2010, ballot questions pertaining to taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol appeared in seven districts and garnered 69 percent support, according to DPFMA.

Massachusetts voters, please continue to support sensible marijuana policy by expressing your views to your state representatives on Election Day. Please encourage family, friends, and neighbors to do the same!


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Federal District Court Judge Asks: Should Federal Law Classify Cannabis As One Of The Nation’s Most Dangerous Drugs?

Posted on25. Oct, 2014 by .

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Marijuana and the LawTestimony regarding the constitutionality of the federal statute designating marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance will be taken on Monday, October 27 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM.

Members of Congress initially categorized cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive classification available, in 1970. Under this categorization, the plant is defined as possessing “a high potential for abuse, … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, … [and lacking] accepted safety for … use … under medical supervision.”

Expert witnesses for the defense – including Drs. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, retired physician Phillip Denny, and Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington – will testify that the accepted science is inconsistent with the notion that cannabis meets these Schedule I criteria.

“[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence,” Dr. Hart declared. “After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”

The government intends to call Bertha Madras, Ph.D., Professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School and the former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George W. Bush.

Additional evidence has been presented by way of declarations by Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin, a veteran of the Iraq War; Jennie Stormes, the mother of a child suffering from Dravet Syndrome – a pediatric form of epilepsy that has been shown in preliminary trials to respond to specific compounds in the cannabis plant; James Nolan, Ph.D. an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University and a former crime analyst for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Christopher Conrad, noted cannabis author, archivist, and cultivation expert.

This is the first time in recent memory that a federal judge has granted an evidentiary hearing on a motion challenging the statute which classifies cannabis to be one of the most dangerous illicit substances in the nation. Attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke, both members of the NORML Legal Committee, contend that the federal government’s present policies facilitating the regulated distribution of cannabis in states such as Colorado and Washington can not be reconciled with the insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status under federal law.

They write: “In effect, the action taken by the Department of Justice is either irrational, or more likely proves the assertions made in Part I (B) of this Brief: marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance.”

Speaking recently in a taped interview with journalist Katie Couric, United States Attorney General Eric Holder expressed the need to revisit cannabis’ Schedule I placement under federal law. Holder said, “[T]he question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”

The testimonial part of the evidentiary hearing in United States v. Pickard, et. al., is expected to last three days.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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